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Birla Fertility & IVF

Psychosomatic Disorders Causes, Treatment & its Types

  • Published on September 12, 2022
Psychosomatic Disorders Causes, Treatment & its Types

The link between our mental and physical well-being is profoundly intriguing. In the field of medicine, acknowledging this connection holds tremendous significance. Recognising that our emotional states have the power to influence our physical health and even trigger illnesses forms the foundation of psychosomatic disorders.

What is a Psychosomatic Disorder?

A psychosomatic disorder is a condition where psychological factors, like stress or emotions, contribute to physical symptoms or illnesses. It combines “psyche” (mind or psychology) with “somatic” (related to the body), referring to conditions with both mental and physical causes or symptoms. Individuals with psychosomatic disorders may seek a medical diagnosis for symptoms that lack a clear medical explanation, often due to stress or psychological factors impacting their well-being and functioning.

What are the Types of Psychosomatic Diseases?

Type of Psychosomatic Disorder Characteristics
Somatization Disorder Multiple physical symptoms with no clear medical cause
Conversion Disorder Neurological symptoms affecting motor or sensory function
Hypochondriasis (Illness Anxiety Disorder) Persistent fear of having a serious medical illness
Body Dysmorphic Disorder Preoccupation with perceived flaws in physical appearance
Psychogenic Pain Disorder Chronic pain with psychological factors as the main cause

Causes of Psychosomatic Disorders

The precise causes of psychosomatic disorders remain uncertain. However, according to some studies, stress is a common factor, triggering hormone and chemical releases that impact body function. Anxiety, depression, and fear can affect the nervous system, influencing various bodily functions. Factors contributing to psychosomatic disorders include:

  • Genetic factors
  • Environmental or family context
  • Social context and influences
  • Personality, developmental, and behavioural issues
  • Lifestyle issues and stress
  • Emotional issues and difficulty in addressing or expressing emotions
  • Physical or sexual abuse and psychological trauma
  • Substance abuse (alcohol and drugs) and addiction
  • Issues with physical appearance or perception of the body
  • Chronic medical conditions or conditions that affect the well-being, functioning, and self-esteem of the person

Signs & Symptoms of Psychosomatic Disorder 

Psychosomatic disorder is often accompanied by or mental health issues, such as:

  • Constant fatigue
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Speech or cognitive disabilities
  • Excess gain of body weight
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Respiratory problems (Asthma)
  • Skin conditions (like eczema & psoriasis)
  • Low sex drive
  • Infertility
  • Body pain
  • Chronic pain in shoulder & back
  • High blood pressure
  • Low energy
  • Imbalance of certain hormones
  • Eating disorders

Other Impacts of Psychosomatic Disorder

  • Anxiety disorder (Hypochondriasis): People with this type of psychosomatic disorder are excessively anxious about mild symptoms or common symptoms like a headache.
  • Conversion disorder:  This type of psychosomatic disorder is usually caused by emotional or physical trauma.
  • Pain disorder:  This is when a person experiences chronic psychosomatic pain in certain parts of the body or pain over a long period. The pain may be severe and may last for a few weeks or even years.
  • Body dysmorphic disorder:  People with this kind of psychosomatic disorder tend to have issues with how they view their bodies. They may feel that their body is flawed or defective in some way. They may obsess over perceived issues with their body and may want to change the way they look through cosmetic procedures.

What are the Treatment options for Psychosomatic Disorders?

The treatment of a psychosomatic disorder typically focuses on addressing the somatic symptoms or pain experienced by the individual. Additionally, it may involve addressing underlying psychological or medical conditions. Treatment approaches vary based on the specific type of psychosomatic disorder.

In general, treatment for a psychosomatic disorder may include:

  • Psychological therapy or counselling
  • Cognitive behavioural therapy
  • Psychiatric treatment
  • Medications (such as antidepressants)
  • Body therapy like massages, exercises, and other physical interventions
  • Somatic experience therapy (a therapy that focuses on physical sensations in the body to alleviate trauma symptoms)

Tips for Psychomatic Disorder 

Here are 5-6 tips to help cope with psychosomatic disorders and stress associated with the condition:

  • Stress Management Techniques: Incorporate relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, or yoga into your daily routine to manage stress levels.
  • Regular Exercise: Engage in regular physical activity, which can help reduce stress and improve overall well-being.
  • Healthy Lifestyle: Adopt a balanced diet, get adequate sleep, and avoid substance abuse to support physical and mental health.
  • Seek Psychological Support: Consider therapy or counselling to address underlying emotional or psychological factors contributing to your condition.
  • Mind-Body Practices: Explore mind-body therapies like mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) or cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) to address mind-body connections.
  • Support Network: Build a strong support network of friends, family, or support groups to provide emotional support and encouragement.

These tips can complement professional treatment and support in managing psychosomatic disorders and associated stress.

Conclusion

Psychosomatic disorders can affect your well-being and your everyday functioning. In society, it is also labelled as “all in the head” and doesn’t give the space to people to share such psychological conditions openly. As a result, this can take a toll on both your physical and mental health. They may also affect your hormone levels, sexual drive, and fertility. You can always connect with a highly experienced psychologist to get personalised guidance and treatment to enhance the quality of your life.

FAQs

  • What are the 4 signs of psychosomatic illness?

The 4 signs of psychosomatic illness are:

Psychological distress such as anxiety, nervousness, or stress.

Physical pain or bodily symptoms that have no medical explanation. These could include chronic physical or physiological symptoms such as pain, inflammation, or high blood pressure.

Psychological conditions or medical conditions that lead to psychological issues or affect mental health.

Excessive or obsessive concern about physical symptoms experienced, including mild symptoms or regular aspects of bodily functioning.

  • What are the two types of psychosomatic diseases?

The two main types of psychosomatic diseases include:

Psychological symptoms along with a medical condition – This type of psychosomatic disorder may involve physiological factors that affect the levels of hormones or certain chemicals in the body. It may also involve a medical condition that causes psychological distress.

Physical symptoms due to a psychological condition – This type of psychosomatic disorder involves physical or medical symptoms that arise from an underlying psychological issue. These symptoms may often include pain in certain parts of the body. It can also be physiological symptoms such as digestive problems or inflammation.

  • Can psychosomatic illness be cured?

It would depend on the specific nature of the psychosomatic illness. If it is caused by a medical condition, it would depend on whether it is treatable.

If the psychosomatic illness is caused by an underlying psychological condition, treatment may take more time. The effects of treatment are not certain. However, it can still be treated through different kinds of therapy and, if needed, medication.

Written by:
Dr. Shilpi Srivastva

Dr. Shilpi Srivastva

Consultant
With over 15 years of experience, Dr. Shilpi Srivastva is an expert in the field of IVF and reproductive medicine. She has been at the forefront of innovative developments in reproductive medicine and IVF technology and has won various awards in her field.
Noida, Uttar Pradesh

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